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Dream Interpretation: Three Dreams and Their Interpretation

Test dreams, travel dreams and dreams of taking off.

Every day we relate to ourselves, others, our work, and the world around us. We do our best to choose what to reveal and what to hide, protect, or hold close. With some we don’t share our hurt or vulnerability; with others we don’t speak of our attraction, irritation, or anger; and with yet others we don’t share our secrets, illnesses, or aspects of our spiritual life. We do this often consciously, to good purpose and consequence. However many of these ‘choices’ are made unconsciously—we may not even be aware of some of our deepest feelings, fantasies, needs, and experiences making it impossible to truly consider whether, or how, to express ourselves. What happens with what is unexpressed, unsaid, unfelt, or unknown? Sometimes nothing, our ‘choices’ are deeply correct and the unexpressed material finds an easy place to rest, release, or move on. But some of this material gets suppressed or repressed and later causes difficulties by manifesting in incongruent and confusing communication, conflicts, depressions, physical symptoms, resentments, grief, and all kinds of seemingly unexplained feelings and behavioral patterns.

There’s no need for blame or judgment about this; as far as I know, it’s a human characteristic—it goes with the territory. However, as most indigenous cultures have known as well as modern-day depth psychology, there is a way of becoming more conscious of this ‘split off’ material and learning to relate to it more wisely—by exploring our nighttime dreams.

Below I will elaborate on three related dream themes—dreams that show us hesitating to take off or make a big step, dreams that show us not feeling ready or able to be ourselves, and dreams that show us already at a new wonderful place—along with three dreams that demonstrate those principles. Enjoy.

Theme 1: She Who Hesitates

Dream: Here are three dream fragments that are expressive of this theme. One person reported, “I dreamt of being booked on an airline flight, but missed the flight.” Another person reported, “I dreamt of getting ready for a big road trip but had trouble deciding what to pack.” And a third person reported, “I dreamt of taking a vacation with my partner but we could never decide where to go.”

Commentary: Here the dreamers are about to go on a trip but not quite getting there on time, forgetting, waking up late, missing the departure, etc. They could have similarly dreamt that they were about to travel by bus, plane, car, jet, or boat. These dreams often show our hesitancies, attachments, or beliefs that are somehow limiting us or stopping us from taking a step in our lives or a step toward a deeper way of living. It could be our need to be prepared that stops us (e.g., we are busy packing or deciding what to take with us); it could be relationship dynamics that prevent our movement (e.g., in the dream we are involved in conversation or conflict and that makes us late); it could be a role in life we are married to and can’t drop or let go of some (e.g., being a parent, taking care of others, needing to be perfect, making money); or it could be the business of our lives (e.g. we might dream of being stuck in traffic of busy streets).

In many of these cases, it can be useful to encourage the dreamer to ‘jump,’ go for it, take their hopes and desires seriously, not worry too much about what is right, or not overthink or over-plan in life.

Theme 2: Test Dreams/Anxiety Dreams

Dream: “I have this recurring dream for several years already. The situation is that I am back in college (20 years ago) and I forget to attend class of some silly topic and then I realize that I am enrolled in that class and that the exam is tomorrow. Even though the class is not that important (usually it is gym class), I still need the grade and the credits, so I feel desperate. It is a dream full of anxiety.”

Commentary: Here the dreamer feels they have a test to take and are not ready, not prepared. Some people dream of oversleeping, forgetting to study, or forgetting the date of the exam. These dreams are often filled with anxiety. Oftentimes, these dreams indicate that one part of the person believes they have not completed something or are not quite worthy or capable of doing something or feeling their own strength, gifts, or capacities. They may have what some folks call low self-esteem. However, I have found that many people who have these dreams are not in need of passing some test but instead are in need of realizing that they have already passed—they are already worthy, ready, capable, etc. The dream shows that, unconsciously, they blow off the test because they really don’t need to take it! It can be useful in these cases for people to locate that part of them (or those around them) that doesn’t see their value and worth and to confront that belief. The woman who had the dream above, upon hearing my interpretation, said, “That makes sense as I never think I am good enough for anything, and self doubt screams out loud.”

Theme 3: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Dream: Here are two dream fragments that express this theme. One person reported, “I went to Greece and felt like I was in love. I don’t know why I would go to Greece.” Another person reported, “I was trying to find my bicycle in a crowded mall. When I finally found it, I took it into the ocean and swam to a big cruise ship.”

Commentary: Here the dreamers are neither hesitant nor are being stopped somehow or feeling unworthy; in fact, in a way they have already taken a step in life but may not be quite aware of what that step really was. They could have similarly dreamed that they were in a beautiful field, have fallen in love, or have taken a drug and feel high or something wonderful. These dreams often put people in touch with a state of mind or state of feeling that they have marginalized; the state wants to be more known, conscious, and lived. This state of mind might feel ‘foreign’ to people, as it did for the woman who dreamt of Greece—a foreign country for her.

For example, to help the person who dreamt of going to Greece, I suggested she imagine going to Greece and ‘feel’ what it is like there. (I used intervention because she said she 'felt' in love.) To help her feel, I suggested hearing music, tasting food, or smelling the air—these are questions that help the dreamer be less cognitive and more feeling. Then I suggested that she live more in this “Grecian” manner—as if she has fallen in love with this way of life. The dreamer responded saying, “Wow!! That is exactly how I feel deep inside me....but I am trapped.” Some part of her is trapped, but her feeling life need not be. She can still dance, sing, listen to music, or make “short trips” to Greece inside. Perhaps over time, the rest of her life and its practical details will follow suit.

(Caveat: Like other kinds of analyses, diagnoses, and interpretations, dream analysis is imperfect and an interpretation can change on a case by case basis. You may have similar dreams where the principles below do not hold. When this happens, trust your own intelligence and what resonates as true for you.)


You might also like: Restoring Soul: Putting Psyche Back in Psychology and Understanding Your Dreams.

To find out about recent interviews, articles, and events, click here. You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Author Photo by Lisa Blair Photography.

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